Citizens from all around Austin showed support for their APD District Representatives (DRs) in October by contacting City Council members to tell the Council that they did not want their DRs to be taken from their neighborhoods to work the downtown trails through the remainder of the pilot program. The Council had months earlier established trails open 24 hours/7 days for bicyclists and pedestrians in/near the downtown area requiring policing every day all day, but overtime pay was not provided. Because the council for many years has not approved budget funds to allow for adequate police staffing in Austin, APD had to pull officers in different units from around the city to patrol those areas, leaving fewer in areas which need their assigned officers.
Stats were collected showing that trail usage was an average of about 13 people each night. When citizens learned of this extremely low usage and that the DR officers in their neighborhoods who provide critically needed community policing services would continue to be pulled to work the trails . . . they took action. The Council was flooded with hundreds of phone calls and emails from around the city telling them how important the DRs are to the neighborhoods, how their services are vital to help neighbors, and that the citizens wanted to keep their DRs rather than having them pulled to work on different tasks. The Council responded by reinstating the curfew on the trails and APD agreed to allow the DRs to stay in their sectors. This situation demonstrated to the Council and APD the value that citizens place on the work done by their DRs, the benefits of community policing services they provide, and the esteem and respect citizens have for their District Reps. And a side benefit was that the DRs were assured that the residents of the areas where they work appreciate their efforts and believe in the services they provide.
For more information about APD’s District Representatives program, please follow this link.